Best Overall Car: Honda Fit

A truly successful small car must punch above its weight in as many ways as possible, proving itself practical, valuable and reliable.

These cars are – for the most part, anyway – the automotive equivalent of appliances; devices we turn to in our daily lives to get the job done with little fuss. For the better part of the past 13 years, the Honda Fit has delivered all that and more, making it an easy pick for the 2020 Best Overall Car.

For this year’s awards, a jury of more than 20 automotive experts from across the country considered and evaluated every new vehicle on the market, narrowing them down to five finalists in 19 different categories. From there, the votes were tallied and the winners were determined based on 12 criteria covering everything from value to innovation and overall excellence.

Finally, the 2020 Best Overall Car honour was bestowed upon the top vote-getter from any qualified car category winner. It may seem odd that this small car was voted as the best in a market that’s full of extremely impressive and high-tech offerings, but the truth is that most Canadians don’t actually need more car than this.

Perhaps most impressive about the Fit’s victory is that it’s far from the newest car on the market, let alone the newest finalist in this year’s competition. In fact, it’s among the oldest – though it did undergo a slight facelift for the 2018 model year – making this age-defying victory a testament to how impressive this little runabout remains.

With a miserly 1.5L four-cylinder under the hood, the Fit is light on force (130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque in manual models; 128 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque in automatic versions) but filled with fun. While not quite the joy to drive earlier versions were, this latest Fit can still induce its share of smiles behind the wheel. It’s also quite the fuel-sipper, with economy ratings of just 7.0 L/100 km in the city and 5.9 L/100 km on the highway with the continuously variable automatic transmission.

Now in its third generation, the Fit may be the smallest car in Honda’s Canadian lineup, but you wouldn’t know that sitting inside the incredibly spacious and endlessly configurable cabin. With 1,492 L of cargo room with the rear seats folded, there’s more space for stuff in the Fit than the larger Civic hatchback, despite occupying a much smaller footprint.

Better still, the smart seat design in the rear allows the seat cushion to be lifted to transport taller items, while stowing the back seats means a flat floor to the front seat-backs – or all the way to dash with the front passenger seat folded down. Finally, there’s drive-in movie mode, where both front seats fold flush with the rear ones for a pair of chaise lounges. Impressive stuff.

With lots of cubbies and stash spots throughout the cabin, the Fit prioritizes function over form – though it’s far from an unattractive interior, another way it manages to go above expectations in a segment predicated upon affordability first. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride in all but base models thanks to the seven-inch touchscreen, as is adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist on non-base models with the CVT.

Other advanced safety features on CVT-equipped Fit models includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, as well as lane departure warning. Honda’s trick LaneWatch blind spot system, which uses a camera in the passenger side exterior mirror to show what’s going on beside the Fit, is also available on higher trims.

While no heated steering wheel can be found on the options list, the Fit can be had with anything from heated seats and conventional cruise control (standard on all but the base model) to leather, automatic climate control and satellite navigation. It also delivers some of the best build quality in its class, with impressive fit and finish to match the reasonably stylish space.

In short, the Fit offers most features desired by buyers in this segment and beyond. And it does so in a downright affordable way. While the no-frills base DX model is priced accordingly, ringing the register at $15,590 ($17,276 with freight and fees), even the full-jam EX-L Navi is a sub-$25,000 car ($27,176 with freight and fees), meaning outstanding bang for your buck no matter the model.

With a new, hybrid-powered version unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Fit’s future in Canada remains a little murky. We hope this isn’t the end of the line for this small car with the big, well, everything else, but in the meantime, let’s appreciate the Fit for what it is: One of the best value-propositions on the market, and the 2020 Best Overall Car.